Buy the ticket, take the ride – The Weathered Road
For Christopher Bell, creating music is all about forging lasting connections with those around you. Bell’s lifelong interest in music started with his father, an accomplished musician in his own right who logged hours with Brad Yoder on WYEP’s Songwriters Circle. Watching his father work through the songwriting process greatly inspired Bell, and ultimately led to the creation of The Weathered Road.
Based out of Washington, Pa., The Weathered Road has gained a significant following thanks to their easy fusion of jazz, rock, and folk. The band is currently comprised of founding member Bell, along with Jeff Grable on guitar, Eric George on drums, and James Rushin assuming bass duties. The addition of these members, particularly Grable with his rich background in rock, has afforded The Weathered Road a heavier sound that diverges from their previous bluegrass roots. However, that’s quite alright with Bell, who views this process as the catalyst for the band finding its own voice.
When it comes to writing songs, Bell believes telling a good story is an important component. The songwriter typically begins with a single line or concept and goes from there until reaching a satisfying resolution both lyrically and musically. Once inspiration strikes, whether stemming from a recent trip to Jamaica or something a bit more personal, Bell picks up his guitar and begins to create. Going through this process again and again allows Bell to write songs that really resonate, which explains the strong connection The Weathered Road has made with fans all over the country.
As for the local music scene, Bell has a lot of insightful opinions on what it means to be a working musician in and around the Steel City. “Pittsburgh is a classic rock town,” says Bell, which can sometimes be detrimental to new artists trying to make their way. This is especially true at many live shows, where patrons are more interested in what’s playing on the jukebox than the band that’s performing right in front of them.
Bell would also love to see more support among Pittsburgh musicians. Using the legendary 90s Seattle music scene as an example, Bell points to the ultimate benefits of supporting your fellow musicians. Accordingly, “It has to be about collaboration, not competition.” Local venues must also play a greater role in honing homegrown talent. While places like Pittsburgh’s Club Cafe offer many great opportunities for local bands and performers, such venues are unfortunately few and far between.
Of course, these concerns haven’t hindered The Weathered Road one bit. In April the band will head back to the studio to work on their next release, which is poised to bring an even heavier rock sound. A few of the songs, such as “Marionette,” have already been road-tested during the band’s frequent gigs around the region. The upcoming months bring more shows, including the Grillin’ and Swillin’ event taking place in Canonsburg, Pa. on May 29. Revelers can look forward to a night of great music courtesy of The Weathered Road, along with many tasty food and drink selections.
With influences ranging from Ray Lamontagne to Tool, The Weathered Road covers much musical ground and successfully meshes diverse styles with indisputable skill. This is due in no small part to the impressive musicianship of Bell and his crew, as well as their inspired outlook about the way music should be created.
Story by Stacie Adams for Pennsylvania Bridges